Shoplifter who changed his mind escapes attempted theft charges

The man escaped prosecution for theft since he voluntarily stopped and returned the items he was about to steal

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

A young Iranian man has escaped prosecution for theft after a court observed that he had voluntarily desisted and returned the items he was going to steal.

Mohammad Kaveh Tahmasebi Ghareh Shiran, 24, from Iran was charged with attempted theft from a supermarket in Sliema after being caught on CCTV taking some bottles from a shelf, placing them in his bag, but did not leave the shop with them.

Lawyer Joe Brincat, legal aid to the accused, explained that “the facts are that he went into the supermarket and took some bottles from the shelf, but he returned and replaced them… This is voluntary desistance,” said the lawyer.

The prosecution argued that it wasn’t the accused putting the items – three bottles of alcohol worth €3 each - in a shopping bag and suddenly remembering that he had left his wallet at home. “He put them in his personal bag and then went back and hid them.”

Brincat contested the validity of the arrest.

At law, attempts are crimes which did not take place due to an accidental cause independent of the will of the offender, he said.

He summoned the inspector to the witness stand, asking him to tell the court what the accidental cause independent of the offender’s will was. “If there is no offence then he was not right in arresting him,” said the lawyer.

The prosecutor replied that the accused took the three bottles of alcohol and placed them in his rucksack, approached the cashier and tried to jump the queue. Then he turned back and hid the bag at the back of the supermarket and left the premises.

“I cannot see what the accidental cause independent of his will which rendered it an attempted theft is. There is the intention but this is not enough. We have not seen any acts which are criminal,” said the lawyer. “There is no actus reus.”

After consulting with a colleague, the inspector acknowledged the mistake and withdrew the charge.

Brincat thanked the inspector for his loyalty to the court and the defence.

“This reflects well on the officer that he doesn’t demand a conviction at all costs despite having investigated.”

Shiran was released without charge.

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